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Mini Fridge and Mini Freezer in One?! Yes.

Mini fridge or mini freezer? You can have both…

My home office is my sanctuary. It’s where I can shut the door and focus on my work, free from the constant and repetitive distractions of my family. I love them but having that sanctuary to focus on my work is important to me! It actually makes me a better husband and father as working in my sanctuary helps me recharge my batteries and look forward to being with my family again when the work is finished.

A mini fridge completes this picture...

What’s missing here? A mini fridge…

Here’s the challenge, though: the second I step out of the home office I’m hit with SOMETHING, every time. My daughter has a question. My son has a question. My wife has a favor to ask. I love them but these interruptions set me back in my focus on the current project.

So my goal has become to figure out how to stay in my office for long chunks of time. This means: a) I installed a half bathroom in it (for the win!), and b) I am fully self-sufficient with food by having mini fridge. But it’s not just any mini fridge. It’s a mini fridge and mini freezer all-in-one! How cool is that?

Spoiler Alert: This is the model I recommend at the end of this post: EdgeStar 1.1 Cu. Ft. Convertible Refrigerator or Freezer w/ Lock – Stainless Steel

The benefits of having a convertible mini fridge/freezer are:

  • During normal business hours I keep it stocked with refrigerated items such as bottled water, fruit, yogurt, hummus, and vegetables (yeah, I’m a health nut…gotta look good for the beach!)
  • When I am going to be out of the office/not working for a long weekend or for a trip, I switch it to freezer mode to preserve everything inside.
  • It has a LOCK so that my curious son can’t get in there! Because sometimes daddy likes to keep a few IPAs in there at a cold temperature to reward himself 😉

This way I don’t have to empty the mini fridge every time I’m going to be out of town. I just flip a switch to preserve its contents.

Which Mini Fridge / Freezer Combo to Buy?

I highly recommend the model below from EdgeStar. Why? Because:

  1. It is just 1.1 cubic feet of interior capacity. Perfect for a personal-use mini fridge.
  2. It has a LOCK!
  3. It converts to a freezer as mentioned above.
  4. EdgeStar is a very reputable brand that backs its products with a great warranty and customer service.
  5. It looks slick with a stainless steel exterior.
  6. It is a great value buy, being very energy efficient for its size and class.

 

Freezer Food Storage Strategy and Family Fun!

Buying a freezer may seem like a costly luxury in your kitchen’s arsenal of appliances. I thought so, too. That was until at the end of 2016 I sat down and analyzed how my family spent money during the year. With a wife, two small kids, and a dog, our food bill was shocking. We don’t even eat out much, but what we were spending on groceries was eating into our ability to take vacations or pay for much needed home improvements.

So I decided to completely overhaul the way my family consumed food. I did not want to sacrifice their nutrition intake or health to save a few bucks. However, I realized that I needed to figure out how to make everybody happy and healthy without making my wallet un-happy.

So here’s what I did:

I broke down how much we were spending per month in these different food categories:

  1. Meat (beef, poultry, lunch meat, bacon, etc.)
  2. Carbs (bread, rice, etc.)
  3. Fruits
  4. Vegetables
  5. Beverages
  6. Condiments

I identified the categories of food we could start buying in bulk in order to save money. It ended up being primarily meat and vegetables.

I visited all of my grocery store options to figure out what items I could really save on by buying in bulk. With an Executive Costco membership (which I highly recommend! Pays for itself with 2% back rebate each year), I realized that buying big bags of frozen chicken, for example, would save me significantly versus buying smaller packages from Safeway.

Costco Executive Membership is Worth It!

2% Rebate Annually plus Bulk Savings Makes the Costco Executive Membership a No Brainer!

I ponied up and bought two standalone freezers:

  • A large Upright Freezer to store large quantities of big-packaged bulk items
  • A small Chest Freezer to organize each month with serving-sized meals that my family could quickly thaw and cook.
  • I designated Sunday as my FOOD PREP DAY. I enlisted help from my wife and kids and made it a family activity! Here’s what we’d do:
    • Go to the store (if needed) to replenish bulk items if the upright freezer (long term storage) was running low.
    • Sit down and make a list of meals we’d like to have for lunch and dinner (breakfast is cereal or eggs for us…easy!).
    • Break up into teams (2 people each) and cook the meals for the week.
    • Separate meals into serving sizes of 4 (for one bag = one family meal)
    • Label and place into chest freezer (short term/weekly storage)

This is so much fun for my family, and it’s win/win. I have been saving a ton of money by planning and prepping meals this way. Also, my kids and wife get involved and we make it competitive to see who can come up with new, creative recipes with the ingredients on hand!

Soon I’ll write about our top recipes so far…hint: shredded pork enchiladas are way up the list…

freezer ready shredded pork enchiladas

Shredded pork for the win!

 

Organized Freezer is Pure Bliss

An organized freezer is a beautiful thing to behold! There’s nothing I dislike more than digging through my freezer looking at bags of unidentifiable green, brown, and red “stuff” wondering what the bags contain, what the expiration dates are, and if I’ll be accidentally poisoning my family if I thaw one out and cook it…

That’s why I have a system in place to that I’ll share with you to help you Organize Your Freezer!

Here are my Top 5 Ways to Organize Your Freezer:

5. Vacuum Seal Produce in Bags

This accomplishes two things: it saves space and it allows you to see the produce for quick identification.

vacuum seal frozen food to preserve freshness

4. Use Plastic Milk Crates for Organizing Your Chest Freezer

This is a must for an organized freezer, especially if you’re organizing your chest freezer. Try to obtain different sizes so that you can customize how the chest freezer is organized. Separate your food into whatever categories make sense. I sort by Meat, Poultry, Seafood, Produce, etc.

Personally, I just bought a Sterilite 16928006 Storage Crate, White, 6-Pack on Amazon to organize my chest freezer.

milk crates create an organized freezer

 

3. Freeze in Serving Size Portions

Thawing out 10 pounds of chicken in order to cook 2 pounds for dinner leaves you with 8 pounds of thawed chicken. You don’t want to refreeze it, so now you’re either eating chicken for every meal this week or wasting food. Instead, freeze food in serving sizes for one or two people, and thaw as needed. This includes condiments or sauces, too.

freeze food in serving size portions

2. LABEL EVERYTHING! 

An organized freezer requires labels. Place an outward facing label on all items in your freezer, containing the following info:

  • Name
  • Quantity
  • Date Frozen
  • Best Used By Date

Trust me. This eliminates guesswork and TONS of frustration.

label frozen food is essential for an organized freezer

 

1. Use Wood to Create Separators in Your Chest Freezer

Cut plywood or “one-by” pieces to create separate compartments in your chest freezer. This eliminates digging and shuffling through freezing bags to find what you want. Again, separate food by whatever categories make it easiest for you.

wooden crates are helpful for an organized freezer